Posts Tagged ‘Internet infrastructure’

Rural America invests in high-speed Internet

August 8, 2016

Graphic from YES! magazine

Small American cities and rural communities are developing high-speed Internet service for themselves, following failures of President Obama’s plan to finance such service under his stimulus plan.

I read two articles on-line this morning—an old one in POLITICO about the mismanagement of the stimulus plan by the Rural Utilities Service (successor to the Rural Electrification Administration) and a recent one in YES! magazine about how local governments are acting on their own initiative to provide these services for themselves.

The two articles fit in with a long-held belief of mine—that role of government is to provide public services, such as public roads, public schools and law enforcement, under neutral rules, and not to divide up the public into worthy claimants and unworthy claimants.

I’m sure federal grants have made possible some worthy local projects that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place.  Certainly the original Rural Electrification Administration did a lot to improve the lives of American farm families.

But very often grantsmanship becomes disconnected from actual needs.  There is a cost in going through the grant approval process, maybe with the help of a professional grant application writer, and in documenting compliance with the requirements for the grant, which may have nothing to do with local priorities.


Wired to fail by Tony Romm for POLTICO (2015)

Tired of Waiting for Corporate High-Speed Internet, Minnesota Farm Towns Build Them on Their Own by Ben DeJarnette for YES! magazine.

The secret world of the Internet

December 30, 2011

It is easy to think of the Internet as a magical immaterial realm, in which information, thought and imagination are the only realities and physical distance and material reality don’t matter.

This is of course not true.  The Internet depends upon a physical infrastructure which, like so many things in our lives that are easy to take for granted, depends on the devoted and capable work of people we never hear of.

I once remarked to my friend Bill, a retired electrical engineer, that it is easy for laymen such as myself to think of the interface on my i-Mac as real, and forget that the reality is the 1s and 0s that make up computer code.  Not so, Bill said; the reality is the flow of electrons through circuitry.  Information technology is a technology; it is not pure information.  Human beings have to design and make the equipment through which the information flows.